After suffering a heartbreaking loss in Game One of the Section Five tournament, Chris Strong had a master plan to help his team stave off elimination.
Paupack's veteran skipper would send Alex Pillar to the hill Saturday evening at the Back Mountain field.
Coach Strong was confident that his battle-tested righty could baffle North Pocono batters and lead the young Bucks to a crucial victory.
"I'm going to leave him out there for 150 pitches if I have to," he said with a laugh. "No, seriously...Alex is a very good pitcher and he gives us a great chance to win today."
Sadly for a small, but vocal contingent of local fans who made the hourlong drive to Dallas, Coach Strong's plan lasted exactly one pitch.
Pillar led off the top of the first and was promptly drilled in the ribcage by a fastball. Alex showed a great deal of courage by remaining in the game, but the pain simply wouldn't let him pitch.
He was relegated to right field while a procession of "relief" pitchers tried in vain to douse North Pocono's high octane offense. The results were predictable as the Trojans scored early & often en route to a 12-2 Mercy Rule win.
North Pocono lived to play another day, while Paupack's dreams of a 10/11 tournament title went up in smoke.
Paupack got off to a solid start in its opening game, building a 6-2 lead against Mountain Top.
Unfortunately for Coach Strong and his dedicated staff, the visitors caught fire late in the game. Mountain Top scored eight runs in extra innings to seal the deal on a 14-6 decision.
Friday's second round was washed away by rain, forcing Paupack to return Saturday night for an elimination game against North Pocono. The Trojans had been sent spiraling into the losers' bracket via a 10-run loss to Back Mountain.
This set the stage for what promised to be a classic pitchers duel. However, with Pillar neutralized, Nate McLain simply dominated on the mound and at the plate.
North Pocono's ace guaranteed victory, firing two shutout innings and terrorizing Paupack pitchers. McLain hammered a pair of homers in his first two at-bats, driving in six runs and giving his team an insurmountable lead.
To their undying credit, the local lads refused to quit. Chucky Kellogg and Tristen Schroeder each turned in a Gold Glove defensive play. Kellogg saved at least one run with a stellar catch in the leftfield corner, while Schroeder turned an unassisted double play at first base.
Derrick Vosburg ensured Paupack wouldn't be blanked. The slugging southpaw drove in the first run with an RBI groundout and another scampered home on an error.
Jake Strong and Timmy Wilson each tallied.
Score by Innings...
WA 0 0 2 0 0 x - 2
NP 4 6 0 2 0 x - 12